Nathan Phillips Square Revitalization

Toronto
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
© Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Lisa Logan
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Photo © Steven Evans Photography
Architects
PLANT Architect Inc.
Location
Toronto
Year
2014

In the spring of 2007, PLANT Architect Inc. won the international competition to redesign the iconic Nathan Phillips Square at Toronto City Hall, in joint venture with Perkins + Will Canada, Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architect, and Adrian Blackwell Urban Projects. For this project, the team drew inspiration from the two main spaces of Athenian democracy: the Agora and the Theatre. Nathan Phillips Square has always acted as an agora, the ancient Athenian place of public and political exchange; however, it claims also the dual functions of square and theatre, the place of focused gathering. The porch (stoa) that surrounded the Athenian agora, provided a programmed threshold between the square’s openness and the adjacent private spaces for intimate debate. Revell’s multileveled scheme was bereft of this crucial programmatic support. Thus, the project AGORA/THEATRE clearly defines the interior space of theatre and square – a theatre for the city in which both planned and unforeseen events are encouraged – and a vast, forested perimeter of intimate, programmed green rooms.

The openness of Nathan Phillips Square is the source of its democratic power. By removing the clutter, the Square is left as a space of pure potential for a vast range of interactions and events. A new stage will act as a fourth element, added to the existing composition of iconic elements – Council Chamber, Freedom Arches, and Ceremonial Ramp – while the surface of the Square will be animated by light, “disappearing” fountains, and seating.

The new-forested perimeter (increasing the amount of trees by 30% and by 60% on the perimeter) is a container for a host of programmes: the Queen Street forecourt, Peace Garden, Treetop restaurant, entry/bike pavilion, playground and chip trucks. A unique soil support system allows for maximum paving, trees and a storm water sponge to ensure a healthy forest legacy. New trees will provide shade and enclosure; new pavings, benches, linear gardens and openings will provide both a rich texture and a renewed connectivity between upper and lower walkways, the Square, and the revitalized podium. New elevators, stairs and ramps will double the number of connections between all levels of the Square.

AGORA/THEATRE includes a series of newly built and planted elements including a Theatre Terrace, Restaurant, Peace Garden, Skate Pavilion, and Bike and Visitor Kiosk. The stage is reconceived as a permanent public landscape acting as a stair and terrace, connecting the walkways to the Square and serving both as bleachers for small performances and as a stage for larger ones. The project consists also of renovations to existing elements including updated and reconnected Elevated Walkways, and the new Podium Roof Garden – the first completed transformation in the AGORA/THEATRE scheme.

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Other Projects by PLANT Architect Inc.

Pottery Road Bicycle and Pedestrian Crossing
Toronto
East Point Bird Sanctuary
Scarborough
Nathan Phillips Square Podium Roof Garden
Toronto
Berkeley Live-Work Residence
Toronto
Foote's Pond Wood
Morristown, USA